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Esperion (ESPR) Q4 Earnings Miss, Coronavirus Woes Continue

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Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. (ESPR - Free Report) incurred loss per share of $3.89 per share in the fourth quarter of 2020, wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.76 per share. The company had incurred loss of $2.26 per share in the year-ago period.

The company generated revenues of $9.6 million, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $18.96 million. The company had recorded revenues of $1.0 million in the year-ago quarter. Sales grew year over year on the back of commercialization of its drugs in the United States.

Esperion’s stock has declined 55.6% in the past year compared with the industry’s 2.2% decrease.

Quarter in Details

Esperion launched its first commercial drug — Nexletol — in March followed by Nexlizet in June in the United States. Please note that while Nexletol is a bempedoic acid monotherapy tablet, Nexlizet is a combination of bempedoic acid and Merck’s (MRK - Free Report) Zetia (ezetimibe) that are approved for treating elevated LDL-C (bad cholesterol).

Both these drugs received approval in Europe in April. In Europe, Nexletol is available as Nilemdo and Nexlizet as Nustendi. Daiichi Sankyo, Esperion’s collaboration partner for Europe, launched the drugs in Germany in November.

Product revenues were $8.2 million in the fourth quarter compared with $3.3 million in the previous quarter. However, product sales growth was partially hurt due to significantly fewer patient visits to primary care physicians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the drugs were launched virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic, sequential sales growth from both drugs were approximately 150% during the fourth quarter as the company achieved high-quality and broad managed care coverage in the United States.

The company recorded Collaboration revenues of $1.5 million in the fourth quarter compared with approximately $1 million in the year-ago quarter.

Research and development (R&D) expenses increased 9.8% from the year-ago period to $42 million. The rise was mainly due to one-time upfront payment associated with the in-licensing of an oral PCSK9 inhibitor program, partially offset by lower costs following the completion of enrollment in the ongoing cardiovascular outcomes study (CVOT) study on Nexletol.

Selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) were up 183.5% year over year to $48.8 million. The significant increase was primarily due to costs to support commercialization activities for Nexletol and Nexlizet.

As of Dec 30, 2020, Esperion had cash, cash equivalents and investment securities of $305 million compared with $215.7 million as of Sep 30, 2020.

Full-Year Results

Esperion reported revenues of $227.5 million, up 53.4% year over year. The company incurred a loss of $5.23 per share in 2020, wider than the year-ago loss of $3.59 per share.

2021 Guidance Issued

Esperion issued guidance for R&D and SG&A costs in 2021. The company anticipates R&D expense for 2021 to be in the range of $120-$130 million. SG&A expense is expected to be between $200 million to $210 million.

Our Take

Esperion missed expectations for both earnings and sales during the fourth quarter. The company stated on its earnings call that it continues to face challenges due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Particularly, lower patient visits to physicians are hampering product sales growth.

Please note that the near-term prospects of the company remain uncertain due to COVID-19. However, the company’s drugs have shown encouraging uptake. Moreover, with the launch of Nilemdo and Nustendi in Europe, revenues are likely to receive a boost going forward.

Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Esperion currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks from the same sector include CanFite Biopharma Ltd (CANF - Free Report) and USANA Health Sciences, Inc. (USNA - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

CanFite Biopharma’s loss per share estimates have narrowed from 69 cents to 27 cents for 2021 in the past 60 days. The company delivered an earnings surprise of 1.85%, on average, in the last four quarters. The stock has risen 51.3% so far this year.

USANA Health Sciences’ earnings per share estimates have increased from $5.64 to $6.40 for 2021 in the past 60 days. The company delivered an earnings surprise of 43.22%, on average, in the last four quarters. The stock has surged 38.1% so far this year.

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